Loi Krathong Festival

What/Why: Loi Krathong is probably the most picturesque and beautiful of all Thai celebrations. 'Loi' literally means 'to float,' while 'krathong' refers to the lotus-shaped receptacle which can float on the water.

It is believed that the Loi Krathong Festival originated in Sukhothai, the first Thai capital. It is therefore appropriate that this captivating event is held on the full-moon night of the twelfth lunar month. When the moon shines at night, it makes the rivers clear and beautiful, which is suitable for floating Krathong amid the breathtaking ruin of this glorious ancient city. Activities include Krathong floating, a fireworks display, cultural performances and an amazing light and sound show.

In the past, it’s called “Loi Krathong” as “Chong Pa Rieng”- floating lantern of royal ceremony. It is a Brahman festival to worship Gods- Siva, Vishnu, and Brahma. When Thai people adopted Buddhism, they adapted this ceremony to honor the Buddha’s cremated bone- the original Buddha at the second heaven ruler. They floated lantern to worship the foot-print of the Buddha on Nammathanati River beach in India.

Nowadays, Thai people usually prepare natural materials to make Krathong. For example, they use banana trunk and lotus to make beautiful krathong then put stick candle, incense stick, and flowers in krathong. They always ask for good luck in the future and forgiveness Pra Mae Khongkha. At the temples and tourist places, they held the contest of making krathong and Noppamas beauty pageants contest. There are many entertainment shows and exciting fireworks at night.

Where to celebrate
Although celebrated nationwide, Loi Krathong is particularly delightful in the provinces of Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya and Bangkok.

As the place of origin of the festival, Sukhothai rightly remains the focal point of the celebrations. The festival comes with a spectacular light-and-sound show held in the ancient and traditional setting of the Sukhothai historical park.

Bangkok- In “the City of Angels”, the banks of the glorious Chao Phraya River are the prime location to celebrate the festival. Many riverside hotels and restaurants also hold special celebrations for their guests. For a more stunning night of Loi Krathong in Bangkok, meticulous tourists are earnestly invited to partake in this yearly festival and join the crowds along the Chao Phraya River.

Chiang Mai- The villagers in northern and north-eastern parts of Thailand often float lanterns. They are made of color paper. If they float in the afternoon, they will use smoke for floating lanterns while they use torch to set smoke in lanterns to float them in wind chill at night. We can see the light from lantern in the sky with moonshine and stars’ glitter at night, which is very beautiful.

There are many legends of Loi Krathong:-

  1. According to Brahma belief, Loi Krathong is to worship God.
  2. Loi Krathong is to welcome Buddha when he came back to the world- he had stayed in the Buddhist temple during the rainy season at the second heaven ruler to teach his mother.
  3. To fly away misfortune and bad things like floating sin- Bhrama ceremony.
  4. To ask for forgiveness Pra Mae Khongkha because we use and drink water. Moreover, we often throw rubbishes and excrete wasted things in the water.
  5. To worship the foot-print of the Buddha on Nammathanati River beach in India.
  6. To pay respect to Uppakhud whom mostly northern villagers show their gratitude for. According to legend, he was a monk who had supernatural to kill Mara.
    Krathong could be made from anything else such as banana leaves, banana trunks, coconut barks, paper, and etc. Stuck with incense stick and candle to make a wish and float it in the river.

The Loi Krathong ritual is a simple one. One needs only to light the candles and the joss sticks, make one's wishes and let it float away with the current of a river or a canal.

On that day, Thai people from all walks of life are gathering on the nearest river with krathong in hands, they light the candle, put some coins in the krathong and silently make a wish, and carefully place their krathongs in the water and release them to the current.

They watch intently as the float drifts silently downstream, hoping that the candle will not go out. Its flame is said to signify longevity, fulfillment of wishes and release from sins.

The rivers and waterways are illuminated with glittering lights whilst the historical remains and commercial buildings along the banks of the majestic Chao Phraya River are adorned with electric decorations.

Today, Loi Krathong offers a unique occasion to celebrate. It's a good time for people to make wishes and look to the future as they float their floral offerings along the waterways. The joyful festivities like firework displays, traditional performances as well as sound presentations are just around the corner. These are the common scenes awaiting you on the colorful night of Loi Krathong.